Katipunero and One of the thirteen
Martyrs of Bagumbayan
“Katotohanan”, meaning “truth”, was the name of one of the five sections of the popular
council Catagalugan (headed by Alejandro Santiago) which Braulio Rivera led as a member of the
Born on March 26, 1867 in Gitna (now renamed after him), Tondo, near the corner of
Zabala and Sto. Cristo Streets, Manila. Rivera was the son of Jose Rivera, a worker at the tobacco
monopoly administration. Little is known of his early background: although only an elementary
graduate, he was employed as a clerk at the “Sub-inspeccion General de Montes”. He was blessed
with an exceptional singing voice thus, was inclined to singing. He was also an able musician who
played three instruments - the guitar, violin and flute.
He joined the Katipunan during its early stage, rapidly gaining the confidence of its
founder Andres Bonifacio who preferred tight-lipped men for his trusted companions. He took the
nom de guerre of “Guitna” after his place of birth.
Not long after, he formed and led a chapter of the secret organization in his birthplace,
calling it Balangay Gitna. Its treasurer was Policarpio Tarla.
Tarla, whose code name was “Pagsanjan”, was the superintendent of the lithographic and
printing plant of Ramirez y Cía., publisher of the Diario de Manila. He was probably the leader of
the Katipuneros secretly operating there.
It was in the printing shop of the Diario de Manila that Spanish authorities, during the
nighttime raid on its premises, found the list of Katipunan members whose names were in codes,
Tarla and Rivera’s included.
The raid came about with the disclosure to the authorities of the existence of the
Katipunan by Teodoro Patiño, one of the workers in the printing shop. A rivalry for a promotion
between Patiño and his co-employee Apolonio de la Cruz, who was a Katipunan member, triggered
a grudge fight that eventually drove Patiño to unmask the Katipunan to Fr. Mariano Gil. The latter
lost no time in informing the authorities and initiating a raid on the shop on August 19, 1896.
Evidence was found proving the existence of a subversive organization in their midst.
This led to a crackdown on suspected rebels, among them Rivera, who was arrested on
August 24. Along with Tarla and others, he was thrown into Fort Santiago where he suffered
various forms of torture including being suspended upside down and suddenly released; caning,
and drowning. Jose Rizal in his first novel, Noli Me Tangere, described the last, where a prisoner
would be dunked into a well filled with dirty water.
He was put to death by firing squad on January 11, 1897 on Bagumbayan field, along with
12 others, namely: Moises Salvador, Faustino Villaruel, Luis Villareal, Jose Dizon, Numeriano
Adriano, Ramon Padilla, Geronimo Medina, Antonio Salazar, Eustaquio Mañalac, Domingo
Franco, Benedictio Nijaga, and the business magnate Francisco Roxas.
The 13 men shot to death on that fateful day became known as the “Thirteen Martyrs of
Rivera’s wife was Francisca Santos. Although she bore several children, none of them
survived to maturity.
Agoncillo, Teodoro A. Revolt of the Masses, The Story of Bonifacio and the Katipunan
Quezon City: University of the Philippines Press, 1996.
Manuel, E. Arsenio. Dictionary of Philippine Biography. Volume II. Quezon City:
Filipiniana Publications, 1970.
Retana, Wenceslao O. Archivo del Bibliofilo Filipino, Recopilacion de Documentos. Tomo
Tercero. Madrid: 1897.